About the AgriLife Research Director’s Awards
The Texas A&M AgriLife Research Director’s Awards recognize the achievements of individuals and teams who have put forth outstanding work in support of the agency’s research mission.
Meritorious accomplishments this year are recognized through four award categories: Research Scientist of the Year, Administrative Staff Support, Infrastructure and Information Technology Staff Support and Technical Staff Support. Nominations are open to employees of at least 24 months who hold majority appointments within AgriLife Research.
Research Scientist of the Year Award: Robert Chapkin, Ph.D.
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Professor Robert Chapkin, Ph.D., College Station, has made outstanding contributions to the areas of precision nutrition and stem cell biology, cancer chemoprevention and the development of noninvasive predictive biomarkers. Chapkin carries the title of Distinguished Professor in the Texas A&M University Department of Nutrition. He holds the Allen Endowed Chair in Nutrition & Chronic Disease Prevention, and he is a University Faculty Fellow, a Regents Fellow and an AgriLife Senior Faculty Fellow.
His achievements, in concert with innovation in basic research, have propelled Chapkin to securing unprecedented funding from the National Institutes of Health – National Cancer Institute. He serves as the co-director of a major NCI grant to conduct training on nutrition, biostatistics and bioinformatics. He is also an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow.
Chapkin has published 271 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 27 book chapters and 305 abstracts, and is listed as co-inventor on three patents. His publications have been cited more than 16,000 times, demonstrating his influence in the fields of nutrition, cancer biology and computational biology.
He has mentored 15 master’s of science degree students and 24 doctoral students in biology, biochemistry and biophysics, nutrition, genetics, toxicology, biotechnology and molecular medicine, all in addition to mentoring 26 post-doctoral fellows.
Read more about Chapkin’s studies as featured by Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
Visit Chapkin’s profile page with the Texas A&M University Department of Nutrition.
Administrative Staff Support Award: Kathy Stone
At the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Lubbock, Administrative Associate III Kathy Stone made outstanding strides to help see the center through the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.
As the center’s only administrative staff member present every day since the onset of the pandemic, Stone is lauded for her ability to adapt, seek and provide rapid and professional responses about Texas A&M AgriLife pandemic protocols as they developed. Stone became the Lubbock Center’s “hub and router” for COVID-19 factsheets and guidelines, assuming responsibility for a slate of COVID-19 duties beyond her daily responsibilities, including facilitating tracing and tracking measures as well as purchasing and distributing disinfectant, cleaning supplies and PPE and scheduling sanitation of offices, vehicles and equipment.
These responsibilities came in addition to her regular duties, which include managing center communication with industry, federal reporting, maintaining the center library and inventories and compiling weekly work forms for more than 75 employees. Center faculty have called Stone a highly skilled and knowledgeable staff member who is dedicated, competent, enthusiastic and proud of her outstanding service.
Infrastructure and Information Technology Staff Support Award: Guadalupe “Lupe” Garcia
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Maintenance Foreman II Guadalupe “Lupe” Garcia is recognized for expert maintenance and facilities management of one of the largest complexes within AgriLife Research.
Garcia’s responsibilities encompass the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo, the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Station at Bushland and the center-operated James Bush Research Farms. The total expanse of operations includes six building complexes, 10 laboratories, six storage barns and 12 greenhouses. Amarillo Center Director Brent Auvermann, Ph.D., credits Garcia with providing exemplary maintenance services to keep all facilities in repair and operating efficiently over the last 19 years.
Garcia maintains the infrastructure and facilities at all three locations, fulfilling all maintenance work orders across AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at Amarillo. He is recognized for an impressive repertoire of technical abilities in construction and maintenance as well as for his acumen in managing contractors for highly specialized projects — often to the specifications of world-class agricultural researchers.
Garcia is also responsible for verifying all inventory associated with the Amarillo Center, the Bushland research station and the Bush Farm. Additionally, he is the point person for most safety inspections and concerns.
Technical Staff Support Award: Carla Naylor
Since returning to Texas A&M AgriLife Research in 2016, Senior Research Associate Carla Naylor has made remarkable contributions to research in the agronomy program of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo, which provides unbiased field management information to producers in the Texas High Plains.
Naylor began her career in agronomic research at Amarillo in the 1980s when the location was a stand-alone research station. In her current role, she designs experimental crop layouts for trials, oversees planting and field operations and plans all data collection.
Naylor also strategizes data management and is responsible for delivering promised results to granting entities. In 2019, she coordinated 38 unique experimental or demonstration trials involving more than 20 agriculture industry participants with eight crops and field sites spanning 21 counties across the Texas Panhandle.
Amarillo Center Director Brent Auvermann, Ph.D., has called Naylor’s contributions integral to the investigation of water and nitrogen use; efficiency of crops under various soil water regimes; and evaluation of new herbicides, fungicides and plant growth regulators for improving crop yields and grain quality. He cites her activities as crucial to evaluating new varieties and hybrids in major crops like corn, wheat, sorghum, cotton and alternative crops — foundational research functions of the center.
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow Honorees
In recognition of the significant scholarly contributions and research leadership of its faculty, AgriLife Research established the Faculty Fellows Program in 1998 to acknowledge and reward exceptional research faculty within the agency.
The Faculty Fellows Program recognizes outstanding and productive faculty who have contributed to the scholarly creation and dissemination of new knowledge through exceptional research leadership and grantsmanship within their respective discipline.
AgriLife Research Senior Faculty Fellow: Stephen Smith, Ph.D.
The scientific accomplishments of Stephen Smith, Ph.D., rank him sixth in the world among 2,520 tenure-track faculty who are primarily affiliated with university departments of animal science.
A Regents Professor in the Texas A&M University Department of Animal Science, Smith is nationally and internationally recognized for seminal research on the growth, development and fatty acid composition of beef, and the impact of beef on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. He has collaborated with several academic and international government institutions and has given over 100 invited presentations to national conferences, universities and beef cattle producer groups in the United States.
Smith has also contributed 219 peer-reviewed scientific articles, 60 conference proceedings and 18 book chapters to the field of animal science. He has earned each of the highest research honors awarded by the American Society for Animal Science and the American Meat Science Association. These include the American Society of Animal Science Outstanding Young Animal Scientist Award, the American Society of Animal Science Growth and Development Award and the title of American Society of Animal Science Fellow.
Smith is also a recipient of the American Meat Science Association Distinguished Research Award.
Visit Smith’s profile page with the Texas A&M University Department of Animal Science.
AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow: Zach Adelman, Ph.D.
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Professor Zach Adelman, Ph.D., is a world expert in the development, use and oversight of genetic technologies to combat vector-borne pathogen transmission. He joined Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M University Department of Entomology in 2016, becoming a professor in 2018. In addition to carrying the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Fellow title, Adelman is also a Texas A&M University Presidential Impact Fellow.
His esteemed career spans nearly 25 years and includes early achievements in generating pathogen-resistant mosquito phenotypes as well as advancing human understanding of how mosquitoes regulate arthropod virus replication. Through this work, Adelman’s lab has developed novel methods for targeting viruses in the somatic tissue of the mosquito. His team’s work to reveal undefined genes in a specific chromosome — published in the journal Science — led to a first-time understanding of the novel gene Nix and its important function in determining sex among the Aedes genus of mosquitoes.
Adelman’s lab is also a pioneer of CRISPR gene-editing technology in mosquitoes. As a teaching faculty member, Adelman has graduated four doctoral students in the past five years, with a combined total of 13 publications. Each has moved on to careers in academia, industry or government. In his time at Texas A&M, Adelman has served on the Departmental Faculty Advisory Committee, the Interdisciplinary Program in Genetics, the admissions committee for his program and the oversight committee that finalized planning for the Global Health Research Complex.
Adelman is a member of the Entomological Society of America, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Visit Adelman’s profile page with the Texas A&M University Department of Entomology.
The Dugas Early Career Award
Established in 2018 to recognize Texas A&M AgriLife Vice Chancellor William A. Dugas upon his retirement, this annual award honors an AgriLife Research faculty member who has received a doctorate within the last 10 years. To qualify, award recipients must make exceptional contributions to Texas A&M AgriLife Research and to their respective fields of research in the past year.
Dugas Early Career Award recipient: Ky Pohler, Ph.D.
Ky Pohler, Ph.D., serves as an assistant professor in the Texas A&M University Department of Animal Science and as chair of its Pregnancy and Developmental Programming Area of Excellence. In less than five years as a faculty member, he has developed an internationally recognized program in bovine reproductive efficiency, specifically focusing on mechanisms and management strategies of pregnancy loss.
Advances in this field are limited by major knowledge gaps in the intricate mechanisms underlying reproductive efficiency and their role in sustainability. As such, the overarching mission of Pohler’s program is to discover, develop and disseminate timely information and tools to increase the reproductive efficiency of cattle around the world.
He has spoken about his findings at more than 110 events and authored or co-authored 73 journal articles, four book chapters, 37 conference proceedings, two
peer-reviewed Texas A&M AgriLife Extension publications, 13 popular press articles and 100 conference abstracts. Pohler also has secured more than $6 million in support for his program, including federal and industry support. He carries 13 patents pending and three license agreements dealing with bovine fertility.
Pohler also has chaired or co-chaired a doctoral student and nine master’s degree-level students and is currently mentoring four doctoral students and two master’s degree students. He is an elected member of the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle task force and serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Animal Science and Biology of Reproduction.
Pohler received the 2020 Outstanding Young Animal Scientist Award in Research from The American Society of Animal Science, the University of Tennessee Buford E. Ellington Distinguished Faculty Award, the Innovation Driver Award and numerous other recognitions.
Visit Pohler’s profile page with the Texas A&M University Department of Animal Science.